Lottery is a form of gambling in which people purchase a ticket or series of tickets for a chance to win a large prize. Lotteries are a popular way to raise money for a variety of purposes. Lottery revenue has been used to support infrastructure development, public safety, and education. The principal argument used in support of state lotteries is that they provide a source of “painless” revenue, which is revenue contributed by players voluntarily spending their own money rather than by the general population being taxed. However, research shows that lottery revenues are not dependable and that states may substitute lottery funds for other funding sources leaving the targeted programs no better off.

There are several psychological motivations that contribute to people’s continuing participation in the lottery. One is the desire to avoid regret, which is a strong motivator in people’s decisions. Another is the tendency to minimize personal responsibility for negative outcomes by attributing them to something outside their control, such as bad luck. People also tend to have an inordinately positive emotional response to imagining themselves winning the lottery and continue to play even when they’ve lost several times.

The majority of states (about 40 at the time of this report) have established a state lottery. In most cases, these lotteries are monopolies and do not allow other commercial or private lotteries to compete with them. The level of government oversight and control varies from state to state. In 1998, the Council of State Governments reported that most state lottery oversight is carried out by a lottery board or commission and enforcement authority for fraud and abuse rests with the attorney general’s office or with local police.